Why This Apple Inc. MacBook Air Rumor Makes Perfect Sense

By Markets Fool.com

According to website Letem svetem Applem (via MacRumors), Apple plans to refresh the current non-Retina MacBook Air family of notebooks in "late February." According to MacRumors, "the update will come with no fanfare or keynote presentation." Additionally, MacRumors says that Apple "won't discuss the long-rumored ultra-slim MacBook Air around the launch of the new refresh."

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This rumor makes a lot of sense. Here's why.

Remember all of the brouhaha around Intel's Broadwell and Skylake?
Chipmaker Intel launched its new low-power processor family known as Broadwell at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January. The company has also been very vocal that the successor to the Broadwell chip, known as Skylake, will go into production and launch in the second half of 2015.

This had led to intense speculation as to what Apple ultimately planned to do about this rapid cadence of processor launches. Would Apple launch an entirely redesigned Retina MacBook Air based on Broadwell in early 2015 only to upgrade it to Skylake later in the year? Or would it simply plug Broadwell into the existing MacBook Air and then wait on Skylake for the big redesign?

It seems that Apple is going with the latter route with respect to the MacBook Air.

This makes a lot of sense
Intel's Kirk Skaugen, who leads the chip giant's PC Client Group, has publicly spoken about how Broadwell is "socket compatible" with the prior generation Haswell chips. This means that Apple (or any other PC vendor) can simply take the new Broadwell chips and pop them into current notebook designs based on Haswell.

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This likely requires relatively little amounts of engineering work, and it allows Apple to get more mileage out of current system designs and the surrounding supply chain. At the same time, this means that when Skylake is ready, Apple can offer a brand new industrial design and a pretty sizable leap in performance/power consumption.

This is pretty win/win. For customers who want/need a new system soon, the Broadwell-based MacBook Air should be better than the current Haswell-based models. Additionally, the fact that it is "updated" should remove the psychological block associated with buying a relatively mature product ahead of a rumored major update (the redesigned Retina MacBook Air). At the same time, customers willing to wait until later this year can get something even better.

So, when will we see that slim MacBook Air?
If Apple is waiting on Skylake to introduce the rumored ultra-thin Retina MacBook Air, then I'd wager that the company will introduce said device at some point in the second half of 2015. According to a recent leaked Intel processor roadmap from VR-Zone, Intel plans to have the low-power Skylake chips ready to go in late second quarter of 2015.

This means that Apple could conceivably launch the newly redesigned Retina MacBook Air in either the third or fourth quarter of 2015. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple introduced the new Retina MacBook Air at the same time as it introduces new iPads. If history is any guide, look for the Skylake-based MacBook Air to hit the market in the October 2015 timeframe.

The article Why This Apple Inc. MacBook Air Rumor Makes Perfect Sense originally appeared on Fool.com.

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.